Skip to main content

Samuel Wanjiru Resigns From Team Toyota Kyushu

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/olympic/2008/news/track/long/news/20080728-OYT1T00534.htm

translated by Brett Larner

On July 28, Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu of Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, received a letter of resignation from its star runner, Kenyan Olympic marathon team member and half marathon world record holder Samuel Wanjiru, 21. The letter was sent by a Tokyo law office and stated that Wanjiru would be resigning "for personal reasons." Wanjiru has been training in Kenya separately from the team since mid-July. Representatives from Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu commented, "We have to confirm that this letter was actually sent by Wanjiru and that this is really his intention."

Wanjiru joined Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu in 2005 after graduating from Sendai Ikuei High School in Miyagi Prefecture where he studied as an exchange student. In his debut marathon at last December`s Fukuoka International Marathon Wanjiru won the race in a course record time. In April this year he was 2nd in the London Marathon and was selected for the Kenyan Olympic team.

Translator`s note: Wanjiru joined Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu because its coach is Barcelona Olympics marathon silver medalist Koichi Morishita. Wanjiru is based in Japan most of the year, returning to Kenya several times a year for training and racing around the world through his association with agent Federico Rosa and his father, coach Gabrielle Rosa.

Since moving toward the marathon in the last year Wanjiru has been pulled in opposing directions by Morishita and Rosa, initially announcing he would run his debut marathon in Fukuoka, then switching to New York, then back to Fukuoka when Toyota Kyushu blocked his New York plans. Following Wanjiru`s course record debut victory at Fukuoka Morishita publicly stated that he didn`t want Wanjiru to run in the London or the Olympic marathons, but rather to spend a few years gradually building his experience before seeking to break through on the world level as a marathoner. Wanjiru ran London in an extremely fast time and was selected for the Kenyan Olympic team on the strength of that performance. He has spent much of his time since London pacemaking Toyota Kyushu teammates in their attempts to make the Japanese Olympic team in the men`s 10000 m.

Although Wanjiru claims to value his status as a jitsugyodan runner in Japan and the experience it brings him, it would appear that the limitations the Japanese system imposes, including a 180 day residency requirement, participation in particular ekidens and track races, and limitations on being able to select overseas races independently, have come to outweigh the benefits for a runner of Wanjiru`s ability.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Daniel and Kawauchi Win Saitama International Marathon

After missing a medal by 3 seconds at August's London World Championships, defending champ Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) made it two in a row as she won a tight battle against Shitaye Habtegebrel (Bahrain) to win the Saitama International Marathon in 2:28:39.

With the onus on Japanese women Reia Iwada (Dome) and Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) to break 2:29:00 in order to qualify for Japan's new-format 2020 Olympic trials race, the pair of them did most of the heavy lifting for the first two-thirds of the race. Yoshida led the early kilometers before Iwade took over, and through strong head and tailwinds, over rolling hills and around sharp turns Iwade kept things moving just under target pace, shaking the pack down to just her, Daniel, Habtegebrel and relative unknown Bekelech Daba (Ethiopia) by 15 km.

Little changed up front until after the lead group hit the start of the hilliest 10 km on the course after 25 km. For the first time Iwade slipped to the rear of the pack, and on a …

Ekiden Weekend Roundup

Ekiden season is in full swing, and across the country it was another busy weekend. Although there were four major ekidens nationwide, the best action came as runners from high school to the pros tuned up for the string of national championship ekiden races stretching from the end of this month to mid-January. At Kanagawa's Nittai University Time Trials meet, two-time steeplechase junior world champion Jonathan Ndiku (Hitachi Butsuryu) pipped 5000 m junior world championships bronze medalist William Malel (Honda) at the line in the 10000 m A-heat, winning in 27:22.73 to Malel's 27:22.79. Four other Kenyans including Ndiku's junior teammate Richard Kimunyan broke 28 minutes as their coaches eye who to run at the Jan. 1 New Year Ekiden.



Evans Yego of the tiny Sunbelx supermarket team won the more conservative 5000 m A-heat in 13:48.04, a race most notable for high schoolers Luka Musembi (Sendai Ikuei H.S.), Masato Suzuki (Suijo H.S.) and Reito Hanzawa (Gakuho Ishikawa H.S.) …

Breaking Down the Best-Ever Japanese Marathon Times By Country

Japanese marathoners these days have the reputation of rarely racing abroad, and of rarely racing well when they do. Back in the day that wasn't true; Japanese marathoners have won all the World Marathon Majors-to-be except New York, and two of the three Japanese men to have run 2:06 and all three women to have run 2:19 did it outside Japan. Whatever the extent to which things did turn inward along the way, the last few years have seen an uptick in Japanese runners going farther afield and running better there than any others before them.

The lists above and below show the fastest times run by Japanese athletes in different countries to 2:20:00 for men and 2:45:00 for women. Japanese men have run sub-2:20 marathons in 37 countries around the world including Japan, with Japanese women having cleared 2:45 in 33 countries including at home. Breaking it down by IAAF label times, more Japanese men have run label standard times abroad, but women have typically performed at a higher label…